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Elementary Algebra

by Harold Jacobs

Reviewed by Martha Robinson

Purchase details: Elementary Algebra by Harold R. Jacobs. Published by W.H. Freeman and Company, copyright 1979. Student text (876 pages, hardbound) and Teacher's Guide (258 pages, paperback,) Published by W.H. Freeman and Company. Please support HomeschoolChristian.com by buying this program from our Amazon affiliate link.

Harold R. Jacobs' classic text Elementary Algebra, currently in its eleventh printing, teaches solid mathematics principles with a uniquely appealing method. Illustrated with simple cartoons and black and white photographs, the text uses humor and historical tidbits to bring interest to a topic that many students find dull.

With 112 lessons, plus review chapters, Elementary Algebra presents the topic in small bites. Mr. Jacobs wrote the text with the idea that the student could read and understand the lesson so that he may take responsibility for his own learning. Each lesson has two to three pages of explanation with one or more example problems, and four sets of exercises. Set one of the exercises includes review from previous lessons; set two and three apply what was just taught; and set four has challenging problems for the advanced student. The "Summary and Review" lessons enumerate the points taught in previous chapters and have two sets of practice problems. The final review provides two sets of eighty problems. Answers to all set two problems are in the back of the book. "Acute Alice" and "Obtuse Ollie" add amusement to the exercises throughout the text.

In the Teacher's Guide to Elementary Algebra, Mr. Jacobs endeavors to share his years of teaching experience with tips on how to present the material. Miniatures of transparencies to be used in the classroom environment and discussion, and occasional anecdotes, of how best to introduce the topics are included. Answers for sets one, three, and four complete the book.

Recommendation: Elementary Algebra is sure to increase interest with its outstanding connections to historical topics. I found myself wanting to read the beginning of each chapter to enjoy these points! The text is easy to understand to the math enthusiast or the homeschooling parent who has a fair recollection of algebra; however, this is not the hand-holding text needed for math-shy parents. A great deal of assistance can be found in the Teacher's Guide, particularly by studying the miniatures of the transparencies; yet, this is not the step-by-step, scripted guide that many parents seek. In the Teacher's Guide Mr. Jacobs discusses the availability of a test booklet, an item that would be very helpful for homeschooling families, but this was not provided for review.

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